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James 1:19-25 ESV

19 Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; 20 for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. 21 Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.

22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. 24 For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. 25 But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.

As I arrived at verse 19 this morning, during my Coffee With God, it seemed as though James was rolling up his sleeves and really getting down to the nitty-gritty.

It’s like he wastes no time addressing the issues. He said, “Know this!” I added the exclamation mark here, but you can almost hear it in James’ writing. These are definitely believers he is addressing. He even calls them “beloved.” This is a sentiment for special loved ones.

The verse sounds as if James is pleading with these special friends of his to be “quick to hear” and “slow to speak.” We may as well go ahead and add in his next statement as well, because “slow to anger” is right there with the other admonishments.

Aren’t these problems for even the best of us at times? Honestly and humbly, I feel like I think before I speak. Oh, not because I’m especially wise, or a better Christian. The reason is simply that I don’t really like confrontation. I will go to great lengths to avoid it.

Even with this desire to avoid confrontation, I still sometimes fail to do what I hear James saying. Well, I don’t think this needs much commentary, for everyone knows this is a common problem. Apparently, it was a common problem in James’ day as well.

He says, “anger does not produce righteousness.” Have you ever known anger to produce anything in the realm of good?

Just in my own personal experience, I have always regretted outbursts of anger, but I have never regretted a gentle, spirit-filled act of kindness.

James urges believers to think about that, but not let it be a passing thought. Let this information do its work in your heart. Get rid of all that wickedness, and stay focused on the Gospel message of forgiveness, which is what saves us (Harvey-paraphrased edition).

Verse 22 is such a familiar passage, but do we really put it into practice? “Be doers of the word, and not just hearers only.”

That word “doer” is translated from the Greek word, poiētēs. Apparently, it means “a keeper, an obeyer… a doer.” Yes, I have a sense of humor. The term, “word,” in this passage seems to have a direct relationship to the Gospel.

James boldly says you are just lying to yourselves, if you hear only, but are not in the doer camp. From a practical application standpoint, it’s like reading the Bible everyday, memorizing Scripture, staying consistent with your personal devotions, and never missing worship services at church, but still not putting into practice all the great lessons one hears from such activities.

What good is that? We know James is a practical man and a great teacher, because of the tremendous analogy (or maybe it is a metaphor) he uses next.

James says being a hearer of the word, and not a doer is just like getting up in the morning and seeing in the mirror all the damage the night’s sleep did to your appearance, but then ignoring what you see and goes on about your day unchanged.

What a great illustration to use to make this point. James, still urging, pleads with believers to look into the perfect law, and let it truly do its work in your life.

The ESV translation ends verse 25: “being no hearer who forgets, but a doer who acts.”

That is the sound of action.



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